Sunday, June 24, 2012

Trip 2012 USA: Geysirs ... again

Trip 2012 USA: the colour of bacteria

The hot water of the Geysirs give life to what they call "bacteria mats". That fascinated me almost as much as the Geysirs. I don't nothing of biologie but I LOVED the colours and the shapes:

Trip 2012 USA: Geysirs

I haven't talked about my fascination for the geysirs I've seen in Yellowstone Park. They were actually the reason why I absolutely wanted to go there (the wildlife as well, of course). I once in my life wanted to see a geysir. Live. When they bubble, when they erupt, how they smell, how they look like.I wasn't disappointed. This is nature at its finest. Nature that is alive (and we human can actually watch it). At the same time it's a bit frightening. I've kept asking myself what it would like if what it's under the earth decided to wake up. Well, not much will remain the way we know it now. See for yourself:

Trip 2012 USA: flowers of sunny California

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trip 2012 USA: remembering my train journey

I am totally into what I mentioned under point 3 of my yesterday's post: post-pleasure of my trip.

It's fascinating. I suddenly seem to remember the oddest things: San Francisco's blue sky, the muffin I ate at this cute little coffee shop in West Yellowstone, how cute the little bisons and how gorgeous the guys at the beach of Santa Monica (SMILE) were.
At the same time, I have realized that I've never really told you about my train journey. First because there was no WIFI on the train and then because, once I was in LA, there were other topics to talk about...
OK, let's talk about AMTRAK.
First things first though. I am gonna do this again. That is for sure. I hoped that it would be great but it ended to be even better, much better, than in my imagination!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trip USA 2012: The End

Oh wow. I just realized that it has been a week since I've last updated my blog. Sorry about that! There wasn't much to say besides the usual "it went by sooo quick, too quick" or "what a wonderful time I had" or "when will I go back?". Then, back to Europe, I could add the usual "shii..., I have to get back to work" or "how could I forget about how sh... jet-lag is??".
I could - but I won't. I don't want to bore you.

On Wednesday last week I flew from Yellowstone West to Chicago (stop over in Salt Lake City). I spent a wonderful evening in Evanston with my friend. My flight to Europe was on Thursday evening. I decided not to go into downtown Chicago for the day and spend my last hours (and last dollars SMILE) in downtown Evanston. I visited the lake (and enjoyed the view of Chicago - from afar) and went to Barnes & Noble and Gap. Had my last American Chai Tea Latte and my last American scone.
And then I was at the airport again, walking up and down Terminal 5, waiting for boarding.
My flight was uneventful, thank God, but I wasn't able to really sleep. I think it's called having catnaps.
Now I am suffering jet-lag. Badly, believe me. My body doesn't get it. Is it daytime? Is it nighttime? All is wrong and therefore my first day back to work ... was kinda exhausting. I'll get over it and it's not jetlag that is gonna dissuade me from future travelling :-)

I spent Friday doing laundry, Saturday visiting my family, Sunday going through all the stuff I brought back from America (bought myself some cool souvenirs!). Only today, lunch time, I sorted out my pictures. I have taken at least 300 / 400 of them. Just to post some of them on Facebook took me more than an hour. What will it be when I will be doing my photo book???

I've actually realised that travelling consists of three stages:

1) anticipation and organisation
2) the actual traveling
3) post-pleasure and remembrance

Makes a trip last longer...

PS: Will post more pictures in the next couple of days... promised!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Yellowstone Park - third tour

You know, I think that one could spend one week at Yellowstone and not see all the places. It's mighty big here, let me tell you!Today was my third and last tour around the park. The sun was shining again but we didn't see many animals today. Some people though were standing on the road and when we were asking them what they were looking at the man says: my wife just saw a wolf. Oh my, I got really nervous and checked the whole area with my binoculars ... but NO wolf. (I've been told that they move pretty quick...) Wouldn't that have been amazing? To see a wolf? Even from very far away???

Anyway, my stay at Yellowstone Park will be over tomorrow morning. I will fly back to Chicago (via Salt Lake City), stay at my friend's house for one night and then fly back on Thursday evening. In other words: my trip is almost over.

You won't read from me until I get back home probably. Now, you'll have to excuse me - I need to pack (again!). Did a lot of that these last days so I am getting real good at it SMILE
Bon voyage!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Yellowstone Park - second tour

Good news:a) the sun was shining today;
b) we saw at lot of wildlife on our tour.

The sun shining thing doesn't need more words - let's just say that I was pretty happy about it :-)

The wildlife thing though - wow, that was awesome. We had seen many bisons and elks yesterday and we did again today (they are actually everywhere). But today we got pretty lucky. We started off with an eagle, then later we saw two mama black bears with four cups (baby bears). Honestly, I had NEVER thought that I was going to see bears in Yellowstone. One mama with her babies even just crossed the street IN FRONT OF US and then we got to see how the cups were playing and climbing trees. Totally, amazingly cool!!!! Our guide confirmed that seeing bears is rather rare... Later on I saw a snake (they are not poisonous), then we saw a family of four of  badgers (Dachse) and just before we left the park there was another eagle on top of a tree. Ah no, I forgot to mention the baby osprey (Fischadler) we saw on the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone - on the top of rock. So awesome.

PS: Fortunately, I had binoculars with me today and therefore was able to see these animals quite clearly

PSS: The park feels totally different when the sun is shining.

Yellowstone Park - some pics

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yellowstone Park - first tour

I have taken 250 (!!) pictures today. Do you believe it? Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until I get a better internet connection to see them. I am so sorry!

My day began with looking out of the window and ... seeing snow. oh my God! 10th of June and I am looking at snow. Welcome to Montana (and Wyoming - the park is actually in Wyoming - my hotel is in Montana). Fortunately I come equipped (meaning good clothes). You couldn't say the same of the Indian family that was part of our group (I am doing guided tours here at Yellowstone Park). They had actually NEVER in their live seen ANY snow. They almost froze to death and I told the lady: you are never going to forget this trip! The way she said: oh no! said it all. You have to give it to them though. They never complained and they took all the walks (well, maybe the shorter version but who can blame them)?
I am glad I chose a guided tour. I learned so much from our guide and he pointed out the best spots or the most active geysers. And I didn't have to worry about my car or about any bisons crossing the street SMILE
The geysers were awesome. This is why I actually came to Yellowstone Park. I wanted to see them. To smell them. To feel them. I wasn't disappointed. Wonderful. Just wonderful. I'd have spent my whole days wandering from one geyser to the another but the group wouldn't have agreed SMILE. You'll see the pictures...
We saw some wildlife too: elks and bisons mainly. No bears and no wolves but these are pretty hard to spot, I was told.
Ah, talking about bears. Talking with James from the reception yesterday, he pointed out some trails that I could walk. At some point he says: on this path you won't meet too many bears. I say: what do you mean by not too many? He: well, let's say less than four? I start laughing and say: well, you know, one is sufficient. And then the other guy of the reception starts laughing as well. What do you want me to say. I am a city girl at heart (even though I love this place here!!!).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fifth and last stop: Yellowstone Park (Montana)

Oh my. What a day. I got up at 3.30 am, taxi waited for me at 4 am. 30 minutes drive to Oakland Airport. 45 minutes standing in line for the bag drop-off. 30 minutes waiting for the boarding. 1.5 hours flight to Salt Lake City. 1 hour time to find gate E80 - plane to Yellowstone West. 1 hour flight on a small (and when I say small than I mean SMALL, really small - it had propellers - just to tell you). The arrival at Yellowstone West. A place in the middle of nowhere. Wonderful. And the airport was sooo small that the lady of the check-in desk actually called the hotels of the arrving guests in order to find out if they offer free pick-up or not. Do you believe that? Everybody is really friendly...After check-in at the hotel, I first had to lay down and sleep for an hour. Then I went out to check out the city. uuuh. City? No no no. Not city. More a couple of blocks forming this main entrance to the Yellowstone Park.
Tomorrow, 8am, I will go on a guided tour in Yellowstone Park. Can't wait to see and "feel" the place.

PS: I forgot to mention: it's cold. And when I say cold, then I mean cold. But at least it's not raining (do the snow flakes that fall even if the sun is shining count? SMILE). They expect tempuretes below zero degres for tonight... As I said: oh my...

PSS: Unfortunately, I can't post any pictures as the internet connection is not strong enough

Friday, June 8, 2012

San Francisco - last day

Second and also last day of my San Francisco stay. Today I did less walking. Unless you count the steps one takes from one picture to another... yes, I've been to the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). Pretty nice museum - not as fantastic as Chicago's Art Institute but then I have rarely seen such an excellent museum as the one in Chicago.Later in the day I got to do some walking - some real walking this time. I took the bus to the Pacific Ocean - to the Lincoln Park. The wind was pretty strong but the view of the Golden Gate Bridge (from the other side - so to speak) was awesome.

PS: tomorrow I am off to Yellowstone Park. I very much look forward to finally get to seeing this place :-))))

Thursday, June 7, 2012

San Francisco - some pics

I am totally tired. I walked the whole day. Streets up, streets down. I somehow couldn't seem to stop my feet. The sun was shining, the sky was blue. If it weren't for the wind. Somebody told me: hey, this is San Francisco. Must be that then :-) I walked almost all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, then back to the Coit Tower (wow, so many stairs but the sight on the top was worth it), then all along the piers and up again on Market Street. This sounds like Chinese to you? Well, don't worry. Let me just tell you that I left the hotel at approx. 9 am and came back at 6.30 pm. I had a 30 minutes lunch break and a short cold chai tea latte stop at around four. The rest of the time was spent ... walking! What a wonderful day. And what a wonderful city.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fourth stop: San Francisco, California

A 50 minutes flight later I arrived in San Francisco! I stepped out of the airport and the cold breeze reminded me that I am now in Northern California. The sky is blue and the sun is shining though - that is sufficient to me. Tomorrow I am going to walk the city and as long as it's not raining, I am happy.
You know there is something else I forgot about California. All the homeless people on the road and on the beaches. It makes my heart sad. All these people. There on the street. Or on the beach. I suppose that we the always nice weather, it's easier to be a homeless in California (I am guessing now) which doesn't make it somehow better...

PS: Just checked the weather forecast for Yellowstone Park (gonna be there on Saturday afternoon). The temperatures during the nights are ... below zero! Oh my oh my!! At least there is no snow SMILE

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Third stop: Los Angeles, California

I simply forgot. I forgot how BIG Los Angeles is. Soooooo expanded (I was told that greater LA is eight times the surface of the Manhattan peninsula - can you imagine?). Amazing. The drive from the Union Station to Santa Monica took me more than 30 minutes (there was no traffic, it was Sunday) and I spend more than 50 dollars!! We took the highway. Can you believe it? Taking a highway to go from one point of the city to another?

I am glad though I remembered how much I liked Santa Monica (from last time I travelled through California - that was more than 10 years ago) and decided to book a room right here. I really like it here. I could live here (near the Ocean, of course, in one of these AMAZING houses, of course SMILE). The ocean is litterally one block away from my hotel and Third Street (with all its stores) is also a block away. I'd say; it's all a girl needs :-)))

On Sunday (arrival day) I walked from Santa Monica to Venice Beach. Wonderful walk all along the Ocean.

Yestereday I went on a 6 hours "Grand Tour of LA". I've visited Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Downtown, etc. etc. Again. The city is huge. I am glad I decided to do this tour. I would have never seen what I have seen if I had done it by myself. The guide, Scott, was cool and he had a lot to tell us about Hollywood, the locations of the several movie sets etc.

Today was shopping and taking it easy day. I did some really nice shopping in the morning and went to the park of Ocean Avenue in the afternoon, finishing up my book. I love to sit on the lawn and watch the Ocean from above. You gotta love it, my friends, you gotta love it!

Tomorrow I am off to San Francisco... but in the meantime here a couple of pictures of LA:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Second part: train journey from Chicago to LA

I have just arrived to Santa Monica / Los Angeles, California today after a 46 hours train trip from Chicago to LA. More about LA later. Now I want to talk about my train journey. It was soooo totally cool. I have seen so many States, so many different landscapes. Met so many people, cool and strange ones. Who would have thought? I hoped that it would be a memorable trip but, hey, who would have thought it was gonna be unforgettable? And by the way - I have already new ideas of new train trips all over the States (yes! I have been talking to a lot of people the last two days SMILE - they were inspiring).
I want to shares some pictures of the different landscapes (there were soooo many - incredible)

Mississippi River